James M. Ball
May 15, 1861
James M. Ball and the crew would be tired before the night was over.
Born in the District of Columbia, the 46 year-old Negro was now living and working in Portland as a Head Cook. Throughout the evening of May 15, 1861, Ball worked the kitchen of the Mechanics Hall in Portland, preparing to feed almost 1000 men, the soldiers of the 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment.
The Regiment was traveling through Portland on the way south. The State was providing the transportation, the temporary shelter, and, on this night, the food.
After traveling by train from Bangor, with several stops along the way, the 2nd Maine arrived in Portland at 12:30 a.m. in 17 railroad cars, according to the Eastern Argus of May 15, 1861.
The men first marched to their quarters, then they proceeded to the Mechanics Hall, where Ball and his crew served supper.
The next morning, the soldiers were on the train again, and on to their next stop in Boston.
Ball was on a staff 36 people – cooks, porters, waiters, and carvers – including his young son, George, who is listed on the pay receipt as one of the two helpers with the title of "boy."
In addition to the staff, materials for the feast were charged at various local businesses. These included $7 for wood from Paul Hall, $28.00 for bread from Goold & Richards, $95.00 for beef from D. Thompson, and $11.52 for towels from Leach & Robinson.
Ball was paid $2.00 a day.
The pay receipt also notes that "all hands were obliged to be up all night in consequence of the regiment arriving in Portland at 2 oclock a.m. on the 15th."
The 2nd Maine was the first regiment to leave Maine for the war, although they had been the second regiment raised. The 1st Maine Infantry Regiment had been delayed on its departure by an outbreak of measles.
- Was there a difference in the amount people were paid? -- Why?